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With 1 million+ fans expected on each stage, Sir Rodney Walker says to start planning ahead now

Sir Rodney Walker, who chairs the company formed by UK Sport to oversee the Grand Départ of this year’s Tour de France, says that anyone hoping to watch the peloton tackle Yorkshire’s rugged terrain will need to ensure they get to their chosen vantage point at least a day early.

The 71-year-old Yorkshireman, who has headed several national sporting governing bodies, was last year appointed chairman of TdFHUB 2014 Ltd, which is tasked with co-ordinating the two stages of the race being held in his native county in July, as well as Stage 3 from Cambridge to London.

Speaking to the Independent about the expected crowds of 1 million-plus people for each of those three stages, he pointed out that roads would be impassable for as much as 10 miles from the route of the race, meaning it was essential that people hoping to watch it plan ahead.

Clearly, that’s less of an issue for people planning to watch the race in London or, before the race arrives there, other cities well served by transport links such as Leeds, York, Sheffield and Cambridge although trains are expected to be busy.

Elsewhere, though, those restrictions could cause problems on all three stages, and it seems certain that anyone wanting to watch the world’s top riders as they tackle some of Yorkshire’s iconic climbs will need to claim their spot early.

There will be a restriction of 20,000 people at Buttertubs Pass on Stage 1 from Leeds to Harrogate, and while limits on numbers are yet to be decided for Holme Moss on Stage 2 from York to Sheffield, it is anticipated to draw big crowds.

“One of the things we have already begun to talk about but we will ratchet up significantly in the next eight to nine weeks, is to tell people: do not expect to wake up on a nice sunny day in early July and say ‘shall we go and watch…’, because it won’t happen,” said Sir Rodney.

“Unless you have made up your mind and got within the vicinity at least a day before… you won’t get to see it. That’s why there are so many campsites opening up along the route.”
   
TDF Hub 2014 Ltd, which published its second Readiness Report last month, is tasked with overseeing the spending of the £10 million the government has contributed towards the total £27 million cost of hosting the race.

Sir Rodney’s background as a sports administrator made him a natural candidate for a role that has involved co-ordinating activities between six separate police forces and 17 local authorities.

While the government has made it clear that no extra money beyond that initial £10 million will be provided, he insists that the event will deliver value for money.

“I would defy anyone to find another sporting event that is free – you can’t charge, you are not allowed to have any sponsors because the ASO have all the sponsors,” he said.

“We might have to manage anything up to four and five million spectators and you are going to get that for £27m. I would defy you to find me anything that is comparable.”

He is confident that the Grand Départ will go well, saying: “If you were to ask me the question of how do I feel with 80 days to go I would say I feel to be in control of what we know and what we can control.

“But I’m not stupid enough not to realise there will be things arise that we don’t yet know about that we will have to deal with.

“The weather is one. If it is like it was in 2012 [when Britain endured a pre-Olympic deluge] we will be doing detours because there were floods on the road. You just don’t know. But we are prepared,” he concluded.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

22 comments

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Paul Carr [6 posts] 2 years ago
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Does anyone know if cyclists will have access along the routes before the caravan comes through?

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couldgetacarforthat [18 posts] 2 years ago
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I live within the vicinity. A mere 30 mins on't bike. Is there any more info on when exactly roads will close?

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triboyuk [1 post] 2 years ago
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Yes I'm close too,was planning on riding to cragg vale but cant find any info on what time you will have access until?

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Ghedebrav [1100 posts] 2 years ago
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Whole deal starting to stress me out a bit now  17

I'm definitely going to ensconce myself in a Hebden pub on day two but have no idea where to watch on day one. All this talk of get there a day before and sold-out fan parks is doing my head in a bit. While I'd never forgive myself for missing the Tour in my home county (though live in Manc now) I can see myself being very happy to settle in the armchair and watch the rest on the telly.

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crazy-legs [747 posts] 2 years ago
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Paul Carr wrote:

Does anyone know if cyclists will have access along the routes before the caravan comes through?

Depends on what the marshals/stewards/police have been told to enforce. In France, the usual format is to close them to cars about 5-6hrs in advance and to cyclists about 2-3hrs beforehand although that varies depending on the exact format of the stage.

At the Olympics, the whole lot was shut down for hours in advance. We tried to get onto the course 30mins or so AFTER the race had passed only to be told we couldn't (for the brilliant reason and I quote "in case you catch them up"). No real point arguing with the poor marshal, she was only doing her job, we just found it hysterical that anyone thought we'd be able to catch a pro peloton with a lead of 30 minutes...

Bear in mind that after the race it will be total carnage as everyone attempts to leave - 50,000 people don't just disappear, it'll take a good few hours for everyone to disperse. Best bet is to simply chill out and take your time over getting away from there.

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andyb56 [11 posts] 2 years ago
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I was planning to cycle from Wakefield to Holme Moss, all complaints should now be aimed squarely at letouryorkshire, already started posted to their Facebook page and Twitter account! Was going to set off around 4am on the day to be there around 6am, honestly isn't this early enough?

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Argos74 [391 posts] 2 years ago
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My thinking was to head up TPT, and sit at the turn near the Woodhead Reservoir with cake and ginger beer. Am I going to have to rethink this?

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andyb56 [11 posts] 2 years ago
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Le Tour Yorkshire have told me that roads will be open to cyclists and walkers up to two hours before the race, really is time that organisers gave a clear message!

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andyb56 [11 posts] 2 years ago
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Up to two hours before the race for cyclists. Still though perturbed by these fan limitations a la Box Hill?

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Him Up North [235 posts] 2 years ago
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According to Kirklees council website (that's Huddersfield area, in case you didn't know) roads on the route and some approaching the route will be closed to motor vehicles by 7.30am on the day. Walkers and cyclists will be able to follow the route up to the time when the publicity caravan passes.

Here's that page for anyone wanting to do Huddersfield and Holme Moss http://www.kirklees.gov.uk/events/tourDeFrance/theRoute.aspx

As much as I love the Dales I've already resigned myself to not making it onto the route on day 1; just a bit of a logistical nightmare to get there early doors. Best seat in the house will be my sofa  1

As for Rodney Walker's advice to get there a day early, the end of that sentence is, "...so you can spend yer money in the shops, pubs, cafes, campsites, etc, etc..."

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HarrogateSpa [345 posts] 2 years ago
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Some of the information about road closures is here in this article http://hedgehogcycling.co.uk/road-closures-tour-de-france-2014.html

The race route will be closed for about eight hours, and they will try and keep other access roads open for as long as possible before the race. North Yorks CC have a map of projected road closures.

North Yorks say that the intention is that cyclists will be allowed to ride to a viewing point after the roads have closed, until the roads are handed to ASO.

In the article linked to, there's also information about Calderdale closures of the race route, and non-race route roads.

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joemmo [1164 posts] 2 years ago
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andyb56 wrote:

Le Tour Yorkshire have told me that roads will be open to cyclists and walkers up to two hours before the race, really is time that organisers gave a clear message!

Exactly - the bulletin this article refers to is pretty useless info, basically amounts to "ooh, it's going to be really busy!" - well no sh*t, who would have suspected that?

Thanks to others who have posted local council info, the organisers could do with collating all this together into one place on their website. We're booked into a campsite nearby and the plan was always to ride out to the route early but how far just how early are the real questions.

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cavasta [216 posts] 2 years ago
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Him Up North wrote:

According to Kirklees council website (that's Huddersfield area, in case you didn't know) roads on the route and some approaching the route will be closed to motor vehicles by 7.30am on the day. Walkers and cyclists will be able to follow the route up to the time when the publicity caravan passes.

Here's that page for anyone wanting to do Huddersfield and Holme Moss http://www.kirklees.gov.uk/events/tourDeFrance/theRoute.aspx

Excellent source of information. Thanks very much for that  41 I'll be staying with my parents in Denby Dale (10-odd miles from Holme Moss) and cycling up there on the Sunday.  1 The info about timings, route access, etc helps me a lot. Cheers.

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Simon Gostling [1 post] 2 years ago
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Some clarity would be good from the various bodies North Yorks CC, ASO Le Tour Yorkshire etc on exactly what will and will not be allowed.

I am sure I am not alone in trying to pre plan my weekend, the only missing pieces are the timings of the road closures to motor vehicles and then the closure to bikes.

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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It's not Yorkshires fault, the French have years of experience and a fairly relaxed approach.

The UK is riddled with wankers that can't function with grey areas and no marks wanting to make a name for themselves with their pettiness.

Mind you, Yorkshire aren't covering themselves in glory with this, an Anthem for crying out loud? Massively overpriced campsites and fanzones? £85 tickets for the team presentation?

Piss taking at it's finest. I'm going to make an effort to avoid spending any money locally when I'm over there in that backward county (except for Hebden Bridge, I do like that gaff).

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WolfieSmith [1318 posts] 2 years ago
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I admire the entrepreneur who's down a deal with the farmer at the top of Holme Moss: 2,000 tent pitches with big screen, bar and showers for £150 a 4 mamil tent. Kerchinggg!

That said on the day it'll be: 'Here they come! Wheyy heyy.' Run alongside like a prat...'There they go!! Errrr now I have a three hour wait to get off the hill...'  29

As they say in Yorkshire - Nowt as queer as folk. Do make sure you take your litter home with you.

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joemmo [1164 posts] 2 years ago
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On the contrary, I'd say that 'Yorkshire' is far from backward, seeing as 'they' seem to have grasped the commercial opportunity firmly with both hands and sets of teeth. That's the wonders of the free market working isn't it?

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brucedinsmore23... [6 posts] 2 years ago
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Sir Rodney's not going to be able to control access on Buttertubs to 20,000. It's surrounded by open access land with a dozens of access points. So you can just walk in over the Moor!

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BikerBob [116 posts] 2 years ago
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Exactly why I can't be ar*ed to go to Yorkshire for the Tour and will enjoy a more leisurely and relaxed (and probably more reasonably priced) trip to Northern France to see the couple of stages there  3

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notfastenough [3674 posts] 2 years ago
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I'd intended to take my family. The in-laws live in Rochdale, so not far from Cragg Vale, but I've no idea how I'll get a non-cycling wife and a double-sized baby buggy to within walking distance on the day...

That said, I'd be seriously miffed to miss a Grand Tour coming so close to home.

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washeduprider [3 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm hoping to head back up "home" to watch the TdF. It's gonna be worth a few hours wait eh?  1